Years of writing thoughtful, heartfelt literary fiction have brought Joe McElwee nothing but poverty and obscurity. Now his blockbuster formulaic thriller, full of mindless action and tired but proven tropes, has him on the verge of wealth and fame.
Not everyone is happy though. Joe’s friend Veronica, a staunch supporter of his honest early work, criticizes him for selling out. Frustrated at his refusal to hear her concerns, she puts a curse on him, forcing him to live as a character inside the novel of an author he despises, the bestselling hack Niall Turner, who is the undisputed king of the detective-thriller genre.
McElwee wakes up in nineteen-forties Los Angeles to discover he’s entered The Turnerverse, a world marked by two-dimensional characters, outdated stereotypes, gaping plot holes, and poor editing.
Worse yet, he’s apparently just committed a murder. In short order, he has to figure out who he is, who his friends and enemies are, and how he fits into a universe that doesn’t quite make sense. Along the way, he picks up a beautiful mistress, a femme fatale, an inept assassin, and a sinking sense of shame as he’s forced to inhabit the kind of shoddy writing he’s now producing.
“I brought you here,” Veronica tells him, “to rub your nose in the Turnerverse, so you can see what you’re becoming.”
Will it be enough to save an honest writer? Or will the lure of wealth and fame be too much for Joe McElwee?
In what may be the most comedic effort of his career to date, Andrew Diamond scores big with this juicy blend of noir, comedy and time travel. Comparisons to Stephen King’s Misery, a story about a novelist whose life is irrevocably changed after an icy accident en route to LA, are inevitable. Like King’s protagonist Paul Sheldon, Joe is also trapped by a woman who wants to punish him for subject matter she disapproves of. But The Sellout is both more fun and sophisticated than King’s novel. For one thing, Joe’s journey is filled with self-doubt and loathing. Also, Veronica’s identity becomes far more nuanced as the narrative progresses, resulting in scenes that are, in turn, titillating, surprising and hilarious.
Diamond crafts an intriguing premise, cements it with the thriller and mystery components intrinsic to superior genre productions, and adds a sense of ironic, wry humor to Joe's predicament. This sets his story apart from anything in the thriller or mystery genre.
An entertaining part satire, part sleuth mystery yarn that pokes fun at mass market action thrillers with hilarious results... Joe is a multifaceted protagonist with inner turmoil over his choices and decisions, and it makes him such a fascinating character to follow.
A gripping thriller that delves into the dark side of success, identity, and the consequences of compromising one's artistic integrity... Diamond masterfully weaves a compelling narrative... The characters are vividly portrayed, adding layers to the narrative as they grapple with the consequences of their choices... A thought-provoking and entertaining read.
The Sellout is truly one of the most unique books I have ever had the pleasure of reading and reviewing... intriguing, suspenseful, and action-packed, complete with an utterly unpredictable ending.